2012-07-06 / Front Page
Council wants to slam door on sex offenders at Halloween
To protect unsuspecting candy-seeking children from knocking on the door of a registered sex offender, city leaders have introduced a law that would limit the participation of these offenders in Halloween activities.
During its meeting Monday, the City Council had little discussion on the matter and unanimously— with Councilmember Steve Sojka absent—moved to introduce the ordinance for a first reading. The Halloween law will come back at the next council meeting for a second reading and final adoption.
Specifically, the law forbids registered sex offenders from participating in door-to-door Halloween activities at their residences on Oct. 31 each year. Offenders would be required to post a sign on their front door or on the front of their home stating, “No candy or treats at this residence.” They would also not be allowed to answer the door to any trick-or-treating children.
In addition, the ordinance prohibits offenders from turning on exterior lighting from 5 p.m. until midnight and from displaying any Halloween decorations that may attract children.
“It’s a quiet thing—lights out, sign on the door,” Mayor Bob Huber said. “It’s not like someone is putting a spotlight on them.”
Huber broached the idea of adopting such a law to his colleagues back in January, after seeing that other cities, including the City of Orange and the City of San Jacinto, had passed similar ordinances.
Huber said it is a commonsense law to safeguard Simi’s youngsters from potentially being victimized on Halloween, a day that offers many opportunities for sex offenders to come in contact with kids.
“To me, it made a lot of sense to protect our children by having this law,” the mayor said in an interview after the meeting.
Simi Valley currently has 119 registered sex offenders living within city limits, city staff said. Of those, 67 are visible to the public on the Meagan’s Law website, 56 of whom have convictions involving minors.
Only law enforcement offi cials can see on the Web who the remaining 52 offenders are.
“Depending on what they are prosecuted for and what they are found guilty of and how the judge rules, they can be made invisible to the public,” Interim Police Chief Ron Chambers said.
In explaining the reasoning for the law, Dep. City Attorney David Caceres said many kids who go trick-or-treating approach homes without knowing the resident and without adult supervision.
And recidivism among sex offenders is common. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, recidivism rates for sex offenders can be as high as 40 percent, and sex offenders are four times more likely than non-sex offenders to be arrested for a sex-related offense after their release from prison.
It is children who are most often the victims of sex crimes, Caceres said.
The Simi Valley Police Department would check for compliance with the law on Halloween. Chambers said once the law is formally passed, the department will hand deliver the the new rules to each offender.
Those convicted of violating the trick-or-treat law would be guilty of a misdemeanor, subject to a maximum fine of $1,000, and could face up to six months in jail, additional penalties for violating their probation, or parole revocation.